Letting Go of Control: Social Media Signage and User Generated Content

August 28, 2014 by guest author, Tim Griffin


Guest Post: Ryan Gushue, Enplug

One of the oft repeated axioms in the industry is “Content is King.” You may have a flawless hardware implementation and a perfect software configuration — but without a comprehensive content strategy, your project is destined for mediocrity.

Traditional solutions to this issue range from paying a content provider, to licensing stock signage fodder, to dedicating in-house resources, to even custom signage content.

shutterstock_106915910However, the dawn of the millennial generation and the unprecedented market penetration of network connected mobile devices has opened up a new content channel for digital signage — crowd sourced and contextually relevant content via social media.

Using social media signage, businesses can link their existing social media accounts (such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) to their display. Customers are able to interact with the screen by using the business’s specific handle (@LAPorsche) or hashtag (#LAPorsche) to have their message appear on the venue’s live display in real-time.

Social media displays can be used to inform and persuade customers to share their experiences on social media, while also providing a digital platform for it to be displayed. This provides the incentive for customers to post.

Posts are shown in real-time, limiting the amount of control businesses have over their in-venue digital content. If this sounds risky to you, you’re not alone. These businesses are giving all of the power to the customers, allowing their voice, opinion, and thoughts to be displayed to the entire venue. There’s always the chance of customers sharing negative comments, bad reviews, and, of course, profanity.

So why are businesses using it?

While businesses run the risk of displaying negative sentiment and profanity, there’s also huge growth opportunity. Social media displays allow brands to become interactive through digital signage like never before. Instead of a one-way broadcast with brands controlling the message, customers can now join in on the conversation. This organic user-generated content is extremely valuable for social media marketing, as word of mouth recommendations from friends and family are the most trustworthy method of advertising <http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2013/global-trust-in-advertising-and-brand-messages.html>. People trust people, not advertisers.

When customers post on social, they’re driving up the business’ impressions, spreading the word-of-mouth and creating awareness. This is essentially the goal of every marketing campaign, with the end-result of increasing sales.

Safeguards to consider

While businesses can’t completely control the message, there are measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of profanity and negative sentiment from reaching the display. Some of the features businesses should look for in a solution include:

Safeguard-ShieldAutomated Profanity Filtering: Automatically block posts that include expletives from appearing on the display. Simply blocking specific keywords isn’t enough. The filter should analyze the entire sentence structure and catch keyword alternatives (ex: sh!t). At the very least, businesses should select a solution that can filter profanity, racial slurs, and sexual content.

Automated Sentiment Analysis & Filtering: It’s important to ensure that the software automatically blocks negative sentiment from reaching the display. Terms like “smelly” and “dirty” won’t be flagged by a profanity filter — but are words that will almost always have negative connotations. Sentiment Analysis helps prevent negative, but not necessarily profane content from showing up. You may also want to filter posts mentioning major competitors.

Pre-Approval: After posting at a business, pre-approval requires an employee to approve or deny posts before they’re displayed. Depending on the provider, posts can be approved from a smartphone, tablet, or desktop. This optional feature eliminates the automatic real-time aspect of a social display, but puts the business back in control of the message.

Assign a Display Manager: It’s extremely beneficial to designate someone to be in charge of managing the display(s). This person can be anyone from an intern to a social media manager. Managers allow businesses to quickly approve or deny posts through pre-approval, or act as a lone level of security where you can delete and ban accounts using profanity or negative sentiment quickly. Automation filtering can now be avoided, while still allowing users the ability to still post in “real-time.” Having someone to regulate and engage back with the conversation is valuable. Engaging back with customers will help land you brand evangelists, who will continue to buy your product and spread word-of-mouth.

Management Tools: Does the provider offer a mobile, tablet, or desktop app? Mobile apps allow managers to quickly pre-approve posts and efficiently control the display in the case of profanity or negative sentiment. Being able to control the display from anywhere via smartphone diminishes the risk of a bad situation.

 User Ban: Accounts that previously used negative sentiment or profanity can be automatically blocked from further use of the display.

Weighing Benefit and Risk

With any business decision, it’s important to do a cost-benefit analysis when choosing a provider. Since the monetary cost of a social media display is a relatively low, it’s replaced by risk (cost=risk). When deciding how much protection is needed, businesses should start by determining exactly who their audience is. At Enplug, our clients range from billiard nightclubs to Marriott hotels, both obviously having very different audiences. Clients such as Marriott typically look for a higher level of content security for their display, while bars opt for less. A decision will have to be made between authenticity and control.

There is a strong correlation between authenticity and social impact when using a social media display. The lower the control on content, the higher the risk, and the higher the impact. When customers are trusted with the ability to instantly appear on the display, they are more likely to post, thus increasing impressions, awareness, and sales.

In most cases, the benefits of using social media displays outweigh the risks by far. Unprecedented engagement through digital signage is available with this new medium; however it is important to consider the proper strategy to minimize risks, but let the conversations flow.

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